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Book Review: Wakenhyrst

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

This gothic novel about an Edwardian girl named Maud, a 1960s set framing story and Maud's woman hating father's crazy fear that he's unleashed a curse in the fen. Maud has to bear the consequences of her deranged father who likes to humilate her into compliance and makes her live in less than pleasant circumstances.


Maud has bleak prospects and the person who was supposed to protect her from the monsters was the monster. Add in an endlessly vindictive maid, folk horror, socially acceptable sexism and tangible sadness – you have this harsh and unpalatable tale in which nobody has a modicum of conscience or decency. I just despised this.


The father is a paranoid crazy man heading for a spectacular fall. There is a reckoning with the past and the heroine's grim reality. This is a litany of misery and grim associations. This is risible and utterly absurd and it was written with a paucity of talent. This comes to a ludicrous nadir with a scene involving a bucket of eels. The father's serious thought disorder causes a horrendous ordeal for his daughter.


This was a stark failure with chronic problems and serious ethical abuses. The father's list of sins are too long to go into. He has an absolute commitment to being a horribly callous panto baddie full of coercive, controlling behaviour, that he engages in with malicious joy.


This has a lack of coherency, an impossibly cruel baddie and a snobbish 'heroine' with no chance and no dreams. This was abominably bad and not artistic or genuinely creative. This was a twee torment fest that was abhorrent and ignoble.


Best Lines:

“Poor-visiting.”


“No better than a cottager.”


“A recent and terrible memory.”


“No conversation beyond the kitchen and the nursery. What could she give a man like me?”


“The accolades that might now be mine.”


“Trusted with simple tasks requiring no exercise of judgement.”


“Some malicious will.”


“Fed her fantasies of mattering to father.”


“Stays at home and does nothing until she dies.”


“It was father who had decreed what Maman ate, read, did and thought. If he'd ever given her a choice in anything, he'd been the one who decided what she could choose from.”


“Wicked practices.”


“This church was built in the years after the Black Death had killed a third of the people. It was built out of fear. It's a bribe to God: please don't do it again.”


“Nerve tonic.”


“You have forfeited my love. From now on there can be only hate.”


“She didn't cry, she was long past that.”


“Make herself appear indispensable.”


“As if some malevolent will were acting against me.”


“Great smouldeirng lump of resentment.”


“Blighting the existence.”

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